Blood Narrative: Indigenous Identity in American Indian and Maori Literary and Activist Texts / Edition 1

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Blood Narrative is a comparative literary and cultural study of post-World War II literary and activist texts by New Zealand Maori and American Indians—groups who share much in their responses to European settler colonialism. Chadwick Allen reveals the complex narrative tactics employed by writers and activists in these societies that enabled them to realize unprecedented practical power in making both their voices and their own sense of indigeneity heard.
Allen shows how both Maori and Native Americans resisted the assimilationist tide rising out of World War II and how, in the 1960s and 1970s, they each experienced a renaissance of political and cultural activism and literary production that culminated in the formation of the first general assembly of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples. He focuses his comparison on two fronts: first, the blood/land/memory complex that refers to these groups' struggles to define indigeneity and to be freed from the definitions of authenticity imposed by dominant settler cultures. Allen's second focus is on the discourse of treaties between American Indians and the U.S. government and between Maori and Great Britain, which he contends offers strong legal and moral bases from which these indigenous minorities can argue land and resource rights as well as cultural and identity politics.
With its implicit critique of multiculturalism and of postcolonial studies that have tended to neglect the colonized status of indigenous First World minorities, Blood Narrative will appeal to students and scholars of literature, American and European history, multiculturalism, postcolonialism, and comparative cultural studies.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Chadwick Allen traces the ‘inseparable triad’ of blood, land, and memory in two cultures and distinct generations of indigenous writers and activists. Blood Narrative is an original, persuasive consideration of Native American Indian and New Zealand Maori tropes of indigenous identity. Natives and the Maori created viable identities in ‘dominant discourses’ during the Second World War, but the pride of national service was not a practicable source of indigenous identities in the simulations of postwar modernity. A generation later identities were constructed by political resistance, literary subversion, and cultural activism. Many writers have asserted ‘blood memory’ as a strategy of contemporary indigenous identity and survivance. Allen provides a cogent, astute critique of these memorable triads and complex turns of identity.”—Gerald Vizenor, University of California, Berkeley

“I cannot think of a more provocative or evocative title for a book that addresses the narrative tactics and activism of indigenous writings. Allen draws upon the tactical differences deployed by American Indian and New Zealand Maori writers to provide insights into the ways that indigenous minority writing has defined an enduring identity of indigeneity. Blood Narrative is elegantly written, provocative in some of its arguments, rich in examples and well worth reading.”—Linda Tuhiwai Smith, The University of Auckland

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822329473
  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Publication date: 9/3/2002
  • Series: New Americanists Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Chadwick Allen is Assistant Professor of English at Ohio State University and Associate Editor of the journal Studies in American Indian Literatures.

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Read an Excerpt


Indigenous Identity in American Indian and Maori Literary and Activist Texts

Duke University Press

Copyright © 2002 Duke University Press
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8223-2929-9

Chapter One


Writing a New Maori World in Te Ao Hou

The first thing any Maori community will do to show its vigor and energy is to build a fine marae. One can be sure that where there is a marae of a high standard, there is also usually a community which takes a credible part in the pakeha side of life.... These ideas ... are proof that the Maori is not content to follow the past but has adapted useful pakeha ideas freely in his own tribal life. -"The Story of the Modern Marae," Te Ao Hou Expunge his little title in that land and whatever you may do for him you have made him a homeless wanderer from the tribal life which is his being ... the preservation of the Maori marae is imperative.... If Maoritanga is to persist it must have the venue of the marae.-Very Rev. J. G. Laughton, "Maoritanga" Te Ao Hou

Beginning in 1952, New Zealand Maori could purchase at their local newsstand or receive through the mails by subscription "he pukapuka ma te iwi Maori," a book for the Maori people. Although Maori had been producing local and regional newspapers in both English and Maori languages foralmost a century, the publication of Te Ao Hou/ The New World marked the appearance of the first Maori journal that was truly national in scope. The Department of Maori Affairs produced seventy-six issues of the magazine between 1952 and 1975, making Te Ao Hou a primary site for publishing information and opinions of concern to the Maori community. It was also the only national forum where contemporary writing by Maori authors could be displayed in either English or Maori: articles on history and traditional arts, personal essays and reminiscences, short works of fiction and poetry, and new works in traditional or modified genres. And, despite the fact that it was produced under the auspices of several departments of the New Zealand government and the specific guidance of three Pakeha editors, during the years of its publication most Maori readers appear to have considered Te Ao Hou a "Maori" text and institution. Certainly the government did its best to promote Te Ao Hou as essentially and even prescriptively Maori.

This chapter traces how the inclusion of diverse Maori voices in Te Ao Hou opened the possibility for subverting the government's assimilationist goals, even at the site of its own promotional discourse, during the roughly twenty-year period between the early 1950s and the late 1960s. Not surprisingly, the earliest Maori writing in Te Ao Hou appears more or less complicit with the stated goals of dominant power. It promotes the virtues of at least some level of assimilation into various aspects of Pakeha life, and it endorses a level of subordination of local Maori independence to the greater needs of the predominantly Pakeha nation. In this respect the early stories emulate the publicity films produced in the 1940s and early 1950s by the New Zealand National Film Unit. While these short films often promote the maintenance of Maori language and the development of Maori creative arts, they do so within a context of assumed (or enforced) assimilation to Pakeha standards of "hygiene" and to Pakeha methods for "homecrafts" and farming. Distinctively Maori culture is relegated to those aspects that can benefit the Pakeha economy, especially the growing tourist trade. One of the dramas produced by the Film Unit in 1951, for instance, a nineteen-minute, black-and-white film titled "Aroha," creates a fictional "university student and descendant of Maori chiefs," Aroha, in order to narrate the contemporary Maori's "struggle to find a full and satisfactory life combining European with Maori ways." The film is subtitled "A Story of the Maori People," and the opinions of its progressive female protagonist are meant to guide the nation's best and brightest rangatahi (young people) toward assimilation. "Why should I bury myself here in the country," the well-educated Aroha laments, "just because I'm a Maori?" At the same time, however, whether or not it was the intention of the Film Unit, "Aroha" inscribes the rural Maori community, situated on its traditional land base, as a welcoming and still viable refuge from the Pakeha world.

On closer inspection, the early stories published in Te Ao Hou also inscribe the viability of the rural Maori community, in charge of its own "progress," as an alternative to Pakeha-controlled assimilation. While such inscriptions represent at best an indirect opposition to Pakeha mandates, focused inward and on galvanizing the community rather than outward and on demanding reform, their presence complicates the too easy dismissal of these early stories as fully compliant with dominant discourses. As one might expect, texts published in Te Ao Hou in the mid- and late 1960s question the goals of dominant power more openly than the early stories, and they more openly counter Pakeha ideals. In their strategic deployments of Maori language and in their development of emblematic figures for a persistent and distinctive Maori identity, these stories anticipate the innovative tactics of "renaissance" fiction published after 1970. Before turning to the Maori voices published in Te Ao Hou, however, I will begin with an analysis of the magazine's dominant metaphor, "a marae on paper," which was developed in a series of early editorials. With its allusions to treaty discourse and to the blood/land/memory complex, the idea of a marae on paper had a lasting impact on the development of early contemporary Maori writing.

Dualing Discourses/Nga Korero E Paparua Ana

Under the editorial guidance of Erik Schwimmer, an enthusiastic young officer in the Department of Maori Affairs sympathetic to indigenous causes, Te Ao Hou's inaugural issue appeared in the midst of the dramatic social, economic, and demographic changes that followed World War II. The magazine's sixty-four pages contain some twenty essays that address contemporary concerns, plus a Maori crossword puzzle, a book review, and a summary of "Sport among the Maori people." Schwimmer announces in his editorial that "For the first issue, the Editor has had to write a good deal himself to start the ball rolling" (1). The majority of these articles are in English; only a small minority are rendered in both English and Maori versions, printed in dual columns per page. In later issues a small number of articles appear as Maori texts without translation.

In his first dual-language editorial, printed on pages one and two in separate versions, Schwimmer lays out his early hopes for Te Ao Hou and launches what will become its central metaphor. For the bilingual reader, the editorials provide a set of approximate but not identical English and Maori interpretive frames for reading the new magazine:

Te Ao Hou should become like a "marae" on paper, where all questions of interest to the Maori can be discussed.

Ano te ahua o tenei pukapuka he "Marae" hei whakawhaititanga i nga whakaaro Maori.

In English, Schwimmer deploys marae (community facilities or meeting place) as an abstract term designating a mode of discussion and exchange that can take place in writing-in this context, an ideal of openness and inclusiveness appropriate to Maori and Pakeha alike-rather than as a concrete term denoting a locus of interactions among a living kin-group, their land base, and their ancestors. He expresses his intentions in terms of conditional futurity ("should become"), emphasizing Te Ao Hou's potential as text ("a marae on paper") for answering questions or discussing issues he considers national in scope. In Maori, the implications of Schwimmer's idea of how Te Ao Hou might function as a marae are somewhat different. There is no mention of a marae on paper, and the verb is not explicitly conditional. Rather, "this book" (tenei pukapuka) is to have the "shape" or "form" (te ahua) of a marae for the purpose (hei) of "compressing" or "cataloging" (whakawhaititanga; literally, to cause to be put into a small place) diverse Maori "opinions" and "feelings" (nga whakaaro Maori). In other words, Te Ao Hou is to take on the semblance of a marae in order to carry out one of the marae's primary functions, the staging of hui (gatherings) for the purpose of building consensus.

The connotations of marae are wider than either a mode of discussion or a locus of interactions among kin-group, land, and ancestors. Although Schwimmer may or may not have intended to evoke these wider connotations, both Maori and knowledgeable Pakeha were no doubt aware of them and considered their implications for Te Ao Hou. Ample evidence indicates that officials in Maori Affairs worried over the potential of a "marae" to subvert their intention that the magazine serve as an official "voice" of the government. In fact, in a 1954 memo the minister of Maori Affairs states, "At the outset the magazine was intended to assist the promotion of the objectives of the Government. ... I am given to understand that the magazine is now being regarded as the 'marae of the Maori people' where diverse subjects and thought are brought for discussion. This was never intended." It seems crucial, therefore, to briefly explore the wider connotations of the term marae.

Anthropologists of both Maori and Pakeha descent have observed-and Maori, generally, have insisted-that the marae stands at the center of contemporary Maoritanga, whether conceived in terms of specific iwi (tribal) and hapu (clan) identities or in terms of pan-tribal "Maori culture." In the past, marae referred exclusively to the open yard directly in front of the wharenui (meeting house), known as the marae atea, and was used for the performance of rituals on behalf of the community. Today, marae refers to all the buildings and open spaces in a Maori community facility. Typically, a contemporary marae contains a carved meeting house (whare whakairo) that represents and embodies the community's principal ancestor, an open courtyard in front of the house (marae atea), and a dining hall (whare kai). Rural marae also typically include an adjacent cemetery (urupa). A marae may belong to a tribal group (iwi), clan (hapu), or extended family (whanau), who are responsible for its physical and spiritual upkeep. In urban areas and on many university and school campuses, marae both large and small have been built to meet the needs of pan-iwi Maori immigrants and students. Other contemporary marae are sponsored by various Christian denominations. The marae is the favored site for important hui of all kinds, especially tangi (funeral ceremonies).

Often the marae is described in anthropological or social science discourses as a symbol of Maori "group identity," which acts "as a bridge to the past as well as a useful community centre in the present." Maori and other New Zealanders describe the marae as "the only area in our New Zealand way of life that endorses Maori values and traditions to their fullest." As a "Maori public place," the marae and the activities performed there are seen as asserting within the larger European-descended community the continuing integrity, relevance, and beauty of Maori language, ritual, architecture, arts, and community values. In Maori terms, the marae is "te turangawaewae o te iwi," the standing place of the people, or the place from which the people receive their standing or identity. The marae and its buildings, especially the carved ancestral house (whare tipuna), connect the kin-group that "belongs" to a particular piece of earth (tangata whenua, land people, the people of the land) to their ancestors (tipuna) and to the gods (atua). The symbolic connotations of marae thus exemplify the complicated set of interactions designated by the blood/land/ memory complex.

The meeting house itself carries several names, each emphasizing one of its many functions on the marae: whare nui (big house), whare puni (guest or sleeping house), whare hui (meeting house), whare runanga (council house), whare tipuna (ancestral house). As the ancestral house, the whare's architecture incarnates the notable, often legendary ancestor-male or female-from whom the group who owns the house acknowledges its descent. The carved head (koruru) or figure (tekoteko) at the apex of the whare's roof represents the ancestor for whom the whare is named. The roof's ridgepole (tahuhu) represents his backbone and main line of descent. The bargeboards fronting the roof's gable (maihi), often elaborately carved, are the ancestor's arms outstretched in welcome; the front porch is the ancestor's brain (roro). Inside the whare, the rafters (heke) represent the ancestor's ribs and descent lines. The interior walls, often decorated with carved wood slabs (poupou) that represent more recent family or tribal ancestors, are the principal ancestor's chest and belly. Moreover, the structure of the house also represents the period of creation when Papatuanuku (the Earth Mother), who is represented by the floor, and Ranginui (the Sky Father), who is represented by the roof, were separated from their marital embrace by their children, who are represented by the whare's posts (poupou) stretching between them. To be inside the whare tipuna on one's home marae is to be surrounded and protected, literally, by one's ancestors and by the gods. The meeting house is considered "ancestral" not because of the antiquity of its physical structure or particular ornaments-the age of its materials-but rather because it physically embodies ancestors in contemporary times. The house and the ancestor whom it incarnates "live" so long as they are kept up; during whaikorero (speech making) on the marae, the house is addressed as a living elder. The regular maintenance and periodic rebuilding of meeting houses ensures that important cultural skills, particularly wood-carving, tukutuku panelling, kowhaiwhai scroll painting, and their attendant rituals, are passed on to the next generation.

For Schwimmer to inaugurate the first issue of Te Ao Hou as a marae, then, was of no small significance. The English version of his first editorial, especially, reframes and textualizes this highly charged icon of "traditional" Maori culture and symbol of contemporary Maoritanga. The layout Schwimmer designed for Te Ao Hou attempts to reproduce in the reading experience, as far as possible, some of the attributes of a "real" visit to a physical marae. The editorial, for instance, can be read as a formal welcome (powhiri) to visitors coming onto the "marae on paper," with the inaugural editorial serving as an invitation announcing the opening of a new marae. In the fourth issue, Schwimmer augmented the magazine's format with an obituaries column and a table of contents. The obituaries, "Haere Ki O Koutou Tipuna," are placed at the beginning of the issue, following the editorial; read as part of a welcome onto a marae, the column formally recognizes the dead before the magazine addresses the business of the day. The table of contents, immediately following, then provides an agenda for the magazine's "hui." In his third editorial, Schwimmer asserts that Te Ao Hou can play a role in preserving traditional literary forms and indigenous knowledges by keeping them "alive" through use. In eect, each issue rebuilds the "marae on paper" with new texts. Maori are encouraged to pass on their knowledge by contributing manuscripts to the paper marae; younger Maori can participate in the marae's upkeep and acquire new skills through their reading. Schwimmer devotes his ninth editorial to the topic of Maori education; he acknowledges the educational role of the marae and states that it is the policy of Te Ao Hou to encourage the cultural development of Maori children "by providing suitable material, both in English and in Maori, for their study." As on a physical marae, where children participate in adult activities, Te Ao Hou will scatter material for younger readers throughout issues, rather than create a separate children's section.


Excerpted from BLOOD NARRATIVE by CHADWICK ALLEN Copyright © 2002 by Duke University Press. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Marking the Indigenous in Indigenous Minority Texts 1
Pt. I A Directed Self-Determination 25
1 A Marae on Paper: Writing a New Maori World in Te Ao Hou 43
2 Indian Truth: Debating Indigenous Identity after Indians in the War 73
Pt. II An Indigenous Renaissance 107
3 Rebuilding the Ancestor: Constructing Self and Community in the Maori Renaissance 127
4 Blood/Land/Memory: Narrating Indigenous Identity in the American Indian Renaissance 160
Conclusion: Declaring a Fourth World 195
App Integrated Time Line, World War II to 1980 221
Notes 241
Bibliography 279
Index 301
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